I was sitting on the beach reading the Malibu newspaper to acquaint myself with their local concerns. There were the usual stories; real estate, recession, anti-motorcycle rants, the Interior Secretary’s visit to the park, and the anti-rodenticide brigade. The second page had a story complete with photos of a very sick bobcat. One of the Valley Wildlife Care group diagnosed him as having “active rodenticide poisoning.” I called their number. The answering machine said they were too busy to handle “information calls” since they were deluged with people bringing in injured birds, mostly baby birds that had fallen from their nests. They require so much care. They reported that in order to save the anemic bobcat, a healthy bobcat donor had arrived from almost 200 miles away to administer a blood transfusion. The prognosis was “poor.”

As a kid I can remember trying to feed baby birds with an eyedropper and taping splints on varmints’ broken legs. I don’t think I saved many. Now rocket forward fifty years and veterinary medicine is now capable of performing almost any procedure that can be done in humans! The question then arises, is there any limit on how much one can reasonably spend to save a dying bobcat? How much would Gandhi spend?

But this is America, where discretionary income means you are allowed to spend money any way you want to, whether it is to fund an orphanage in Mazatlan, a missionary in Kenya, drive an SUV, take the family skiing, own season tickets to the Detroit Lions, or subscribe to Architectural Digest.

I make a living entertaining. I have a few cows. To run the cows I have horses. I have to buy hay for my horses, have two stock trailers and a four-wheel drive one-ton that takes diesel at $2.91 per gallon. I think of my “cow business” as my bass boat!

Common sense has nothing to do with discretionary spending. If there are animal lovers who gain personal satisfaction from funding the rescue of baby birds, rodents and injured bobcats, critics who might be cynical should be careful not to cast first stones from their own glass Lexuses, or Lexii?


In the same paper one of the contributors told her personal story of stepping on a snail: “…it broke my heart…four feet away came a baby snail…I ruined a family…it was my fault…I wanted to tell her but I don’t speak snail…it buckled me down to my knees.”

After other examples of her previous travesties against fireflies, chipmunks, salamanders and spiders, she concluded about rodenticides, “…maybe everybody will just stop using it.”

Malibu is a city crowded cheek to cheek along a 50-mile stretch of ocean. One hundred years ago mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats and bears ruled. Today people are duking it out with coyotes, pack rats, birds, assorted vermin and bugs with gunpowder and poison. So I guess trying to save one poor bobcat will help assuage our “snail lover’s” guilt for her part in paving the wildlife’s environment and forcing then to adapt or go extinct. But it’s a trade-off…fund a snail sanctuary or get your head examined. PD